As we prepare for another World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals, it must be noted that this year’s St. Louis lineup is quite unfamiliar. Folks like Kolten Wong and Matt Adams aren’t exactly household names but have banded together to lead their team to a run at the championship. They aren’t the first players out of St. Louis that have gone unnoticed either. As a matter of fact, we’ve gone back in the history books to find three players whose roots run deep in the baseball world, but for some reason, never got a taste of the glory. (Please note: while the players below are all real, their stories are 100 percent incorrect, although how great would it be if they weren’t?)
Young Stubby Clapp grew up in Windsor, Ontario, where his claim to fame was that he was the first Canadian Little Leaguer to hit a home run across the Detroit River into US territory. That feat gave Stubby the opportunity to play for Canada’s 1986 Little League World Series team. Unfortunately, he was banned from international play, as he was caught up in a false age scandal, being the only 12-year-old in the tournament with an incoming beard.
Clapp made headlines once again in 1996 when he was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals. Headlines that read, “Cardinals Get Stubby Clapp” led concerned locals to believe that there was an outbreak of rare jock itch rampant in the Cardinals locker room. It was a poor start to say the least. Ol’ Stubby was resilient, however, and became a fan favorite in St. Louis. The non-batting-glove-wearing Clapp would flash his signature tobacco-riddled smile every pinch-hitting appearance as fans would passionately chant “STU-BBY! STU-BBY!” His career numbers may only amount to one RBI, but he’ll be remembered by Cards fans for the countless memories. Today, Stubby works as the hitting coach for Toronto’s minor league Dunedin Blue Jays and in his spare time, runs a side company, crafting homemade sausages that he sells as “Stubby’s Chubbies.”
One of the great southpaws in Cardinals history is Rich “Screwball” Folkers. Growing up in Waterloo, Iowa, Folkers was known by other local children as “The 40-Year-Old Kindergartener” due to his older appearance. This reputation followed him to the big leagues, as he was offered a senior’s discount on his plane ticket to Florida for spring training his rookie season. Prior to one game in July 1973, Pittsburgh’s Al Oliver referred to him in a press conference as “Dick” Folkers. Rich proceeded to beam Oliver in the head with a fastball, followed by a proud declaration of, “Nobody messes with Folkers!” Rich Folkers retired from baseball in 1977 and today hosts a “Mr. Rogers”-type children’s show on Waterloo community television, while being an avid spokesperson for Rec Specs.
It’s going to be tough to embellish the history of Willie McGee, seeing as he won three Gold Gloves and was named the 1985 NL MVP, so instead why don’t I recount the tale behind this exceptionally confusing Topps baseball card. See, it was just after a 1985 pre-season game against the New York Yankees. Don Mattingly, infamous for his off-field behavior, thought it would be a good prank to put laxatives in the Cardinals’ pre-game clubhouse meal. Willie’s face is a solid representation of what resulted, but the game itself was called off in the fourth inning due to widespread stomach pains. Palm Beach’s Roger Dean Stadium was known for the rest of the 1985 preseason as the “Toilet Bowl.” Now you know.